Best Monoculars: See Far While Hiking, Birdwatching, and More
Get a better view of objects at a distance with these monoculars
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.
PUBLISHED ON October 23, 2019
A high-quality monocular is more useful than it seems. It holds an advantage over its larger optical rivals, since it’s lightweight and small. It can come in handy if you like hiking, backpacking, or birdwatching. If you are planning to buy one, consider any of the top-rated options in our buying guide below.
- Best OverallWingspan Optics ExplorerSummarySummaryA high-powered monocular that offers a crisp, clear viewing and lets you find any target within 1,000 yards.ProsProsWaterproof design. Weather-resistant. Delivers great quality images with correct brightness and color. It can be mounted on a tripod stand. Protected against external damage. It comes with a carrying case and a lens cleaning cloth.ConsConsFeels heavier than most monoculars. It doesn’t hold secure when adjusted on a tripod.
- Best ValueAuthentic Roxant Grip ScopeSummarySummaryAn affordable, high-definition monocular with a retractable lens that offers a wide view.ProsProsCompact and comfortable non-slip design. Protected from moisture, dust, and debris. User-friendly. Great light transmission and brightness. It comes with a cleaning cloth, neck strap, and carry pouch.ConsConsAverage magnification power. Distorted clarity with increased range. Fogs up in humid conditions.
- Honorable MentionBushnell Legend Ultra HD MonocularSummarySummaryAn ultra-HD, easy-to-use monocular with exceptional optics, great color detail, and light capture.ProsProsLightweight. Delivers clear mages in low light conditions. Features comfortable twist eyecups. 100 percent waterproof. Fog-proof construction. High magnification and focus distance. Compatible with most mounting accessories.ConsConsExpensive. The belt clip may fall out easily. Hard to find replacement hardware for repairs.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- Protect your monocular, and always store it in a case when it’s not in use. It will protect the unit from dirt, moisture, and collision damage.
- Use the cloth provided by the manufacturer or any other lint-free cloth to clean the lens. You can dab it with an alcohol-based solution for the best results.
- Avoid handling the monocular with dirty or greasy hands. Use wet wipes to clean dirt off your hands to avoid contaminating the lens.
- Most monoculars advertise to be waterproof, but not all gadgets live up to the hype. Try to keep the unit in dry conditions, and wipe it dry before storing it in the case.
Q: Is a monocular better than a binocular?
A: A monocular is only half the weight of a binocular and easier to carry and handle. However, it can get uncomfortable to hold if you plan on using it for a long period of time. You should opt for binoculars for lengthy observations since they are more comfortable on the eyes.
Q: Do all monoculars have night-vision capabilities?
A: Most monoculars on the market can only be used in the daytime, and some special models have great vision in low-light conditions. It is possible to find a monocular with sophisticated night-vision technology. Such models use infrared technology to light up images in the dark. They are, however, more expensive.
Q: Can I use a monocular with my glasses?
A: If you wear glasses, you have to leave a space of at least 0.5 inches between your eye and the eyepiece for a better view. That space is referred to as eye relief. You have to either adjust or remove the eyecap to get a better view. The same case applies to sunglasses. People who don’t wear glasses don’t have to worry about eye relief.
Our top choice for the best monocular is the Wingspan Optics Explorer. It’s easy to operate, offers great image quality, and has a strap slot for easier access.
Our budget pick is the Authentic Roxant Grip Scope. It’s affordable and will give you great value for the price you pay.